Sunday, 27 September 2009

September Daring Bakers: Vol-Au-Vents

Vol-Au-Vents (14)b

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Puff pastry is in the ‘laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough. A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the “beurrage”) that is enclosed in dough (called the “détrempe”). This dough/butter packet is called a “paton,” and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked. Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the détrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise. The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.

Vol-Au-Vents (4)

To be honest, I wasn't sure how I felt about this challenge. I was pleased that I was being pushed to make puff pastry and as a result would extend my skills but I wrestled with a filling. I wanted to do something sweet but couldn't get away from savoury ideas and finally settled on two fillings. One was a chicken,vegetable and cream cheese filling so that the vol-au-vents I made would become a complete meal for us and hopefully please JT. The second was caramelised red onion and creme fraiché to create a more elegant side dish or canapé.

I haven't included a detailed recipe or instructions for the puff pastry the reason being that I figure no-one is coming here looking for that level of expertise. I have given details of the fillings because perhaps you'll buy a block of puff pastry and make the vol-au-vent cases or even buy the pre-prepared cases to fill. If anyone wants details on making puff pastry I'll gladly email you the recipe.

I enjoyed the challenge of it but I'm not sure I'd do it again. The all-butter puff pastry you buy in the shops is a great substitute and, since the recipe requires a whole block of butter, it's not much more expensive.

Vol-Au-Vents (2)


Will fill SIX 3" Vol-Au-Vents


2 Chicken Breasts, chopped
2 Handfuls of Frozen Veg
3 tblsp Plain Flour
200ml Hot Chicken Stock
125g Cream Cheese
Small handful of fresh thyme


1. Fry the chicken in a little olive oil in a large frying pan until cooked.

2. Add the frozen veg to the pan and cook for a few minutes more.

3. Add the flour and toss everything to coat.

4. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the hot chicken stock. Continue to cook for a few mins stirring until the liquid thickens (add more hot water if necessary).

5. Add the cream cheese and stir to incorporate. Add the thyme and season to taste.

6. To plate up, spoon some mixture into each vol-au-vent.

Vol-au-Vents 2 (8)b


Will fill FOUR 3" Vol-Au-Vents

1 Red Onion
200g tub cremé fraiché (whole tub not required)
1 tbslp balsamic vinegar
1tsp soft brown sugar
1 tblsp butter


1. Halve and then slice the onion finely.

2. Sauté the onion in the butter in a frying pan with the lid on over a low heat until soft (about 5 mins).

3. Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and stir. Continue to sauté with the lid on for a few mins more.

4. To plate up, put a tblsp of cremé fraiché into each vol-au-vent then top with the red onions.

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  1. Clabby what can I say. Absolutely amazing. The pastry looks soooooo flaky and light. Perfect. Your pics are gorgeous. They make me want to crunch that feathery lightness off the screen.

  2. Wow, your vols-au-vent look light, airy, flaky and golden! Your fillings sound delicious too:) YUM!

  3. Rhyleysgranny and Sue you're very kind. The pastry was so flaky and light. I confess to eating all the little plain puff pastry 'caps' myself!

  4. so clever with the squre caramalised onion ones! not a hint of post church 'teas' about them! re vamped for use again!x

  5. I love your carmelised onion filling. I"m going to a party this weekend and might try that as a filling as I still have a ton of pastry in my freezer. You photos are really lovely too